CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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THE GREATEST STORYTELLER

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 13 Jesus
We all love a good story. We are drawn to great stories that make us think beyond our normal thoughts. Stories must hold our interest, must make a point, must lead to a conclusion to keep us captured in the moment. At least it’s like that for me, how about you?
 
Jesus, who is the Master Teacher, holds the attention of most listeners because he is also the greatest storyteller of his day (and our’s). People follow him around. He sits by the lake to ponder his challenging day of wrestling with demons and religious leaders who know who He is and want to get rid of Him. “Later that same day” relates Matthew gives us a time frame for what our Lord is going through. Does He create His stories while finding rests sitting by the lake? He must be quick about it, because people are gathering in droves to see and hear what He will do and say next.
 
So, he gets in a boat anchored to the shore, sits down and tells a story. The people who want to hear are mesmerized by His parable. Those who do not want to understand are confused all the more. They are afraid of what they do not understand as tradition and law.
 
Matthew 13 seedsThe disciples ask Jesus why he is telling stories. My response, as a storyteller myself as a teacher is obvious to me, but Jesus responds with answers that take us all back to what God told through the prophets LONG before Jesus came to visit earth. Jesus quotes Isaiah with adding, ““But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.” NOW, disciples, “listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds.”
 
There will always be a reason for the story. There will always be a tie in to the listeners way of life. Jesus connects with the common people of simple faith. Jesus relates to those who seek Him with sincere hearts. Jesus opens the minds, hearts and souls of those who are ready to hear and understand and pours in Truth. He uses stories to teach us all how to love and live. Jesus teaches us the greatest of all commandments; Love God, Love Others like He loves us. If we are doing this, the stories make sense. We get it. We live it.
 
Matthew 13, NLT
 
Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed
13 Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. 2 A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. 3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
 
Matthew 13 parables“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
 
10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
 
11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,
 
For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
 
14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
 
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’[b]
 
16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.
 
18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
 
Matthew 13 sows.jpgParable of the Wheat and Weeds
24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
 
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
 
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
 
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
 
29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
 
 
Matthew 13 planting
Plant the seeds of love, mercy, grace, the Truth of the Person of Jesus Christ. God will take care of the rest.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for stories of Truth that we can understand. Thank you for helping us to grow in our understanding as we follow You in our simple faith.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
 
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DO YOU REALLY WANT A SIGN FROM GOD?

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 12 signs and more
Religious leaders of Jesus day are questioning and baiting Him yet again. “Show us a sign…” Let me put in our language of today the words Jesus responds with, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” (I’m smiling). Of course Jesus responds with greater wisdom than our paraphrase but it comes close to the seriousness of this request from those who don’t know Jesus and don’t want to know Jesus. (Now, I’m not smiling, this makes my heart hurt as it must of hurt the heart of our Savior and Lord.)
 
Matthew 12, NLT
Matthew 12 Jonah.jpgThe Sign of Jonah
38 One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”
 
39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
 
Matthew 12 sign41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. 42 The queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.
 
43 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
 
The True Family of Jesus
46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”
 
48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
 
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT:
 
matthew-12-what-sign.jpg
How many times have you heard our generation ask for a sign from God? I want to know what he wants so I’m asking for a sign. Most of the time we know what God wants but we are fighting our sinful nature and selfishness as we decide to trust and obey…or not.
 
Those who humbly repent with no desire to go back to their sin don’t need a sign. Those with the faith of a mustard seed in God don’t need a sign. Those who believe, trust and obey with “childlike” faith (not childish, there is a difference) don’t need a sign. We humans look for people with the wisdom of Solomon for advice and help to find our way in this world, but there stands Jesus waiting to give us all we need. “Ask and it shall be given…”, says Jesus.
 
When we put all our trust, hope and faith in the One who died and rose again to pay for all the sin of the world for good, we don’t need another sign. We even become joint heirs to Christ, Son of God! We are family!
 
We end this passage with Jesus’ family coming to see Him in the midst of His God-given mission. He responds with, “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
 
AND nothing can separate from the family of God, writes Paul. (Romans 8, NLT) Listen to this!
 
Matthew 12 give me a sign.jpgNothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
 
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
 
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 
Matthew 12 your way.jpg
If we are as “convinced” as Paul, we don’t need a “sign” to do what God wants. If we are in close communion and communication with God, though the guidance of His Holy Spirit, we don’t need a sign. We just need to follow.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
As people of faith, we look for You in every situation and circumstance. We listen for Your Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. But we don’t need a sign of Your greatness. We don’t need a sign of your power. You have redeemed us. You saved me. That’s all I need. I am redeemed and I know that I am. And I am grateful. Eternally grateful.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
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WITH OR AGAINST?

Matthew – God’s Purposes
Matthew 12 divided
In any competition, there are two opposing sides. One wins and the other loses. In debates, the one with the most reliable sources cited and arguments proven wins. In family squabbles, the one who is the loudest most times wins. On the playground there is always someone who leads the pack and decides what the group will play. There are also leaders who lead others into trouble. “Let’s see if this works” and “Let’s see what happens if” was always the signal for me as a teacher to check out what was about to occur on the playground or in the classroom!
 
While playing our games, we want to be on the side that wins, right? We follow the one who will lead us to the win. We do our best as a team to win. We love winning! The most important task is to choose who will win and follow Him.
 
Matthew 12, NLT
Jesus and the Prince of Demons
Matthew 12 3022 Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. 23 The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?”
 
24 But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.”
 
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. 27 And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. 28 But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 29 For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
 
Matthew 12 plunder30 “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.
 
Matthew 12 Holy Spirit31 “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.
 
33 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
 
Matthew 12 satanQUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT:
 
Who is “winning” control over your life?
 
Who do you exclusively follow?
 
There are only two choices on this journey called life here.
 
“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”
–Jesus
 
What does my behavior show to others about whose side I am on? Does my behavior truly reflect who I believe and follow?
 
Am I working against Jesus and His Holy Spirit’s work in me and in the lives of others?
 
Am I bearing the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit? How do I know? Check out Galatians 5…Paul explains the difference very clearly;
 
CHOICE ONE:
 
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
 
Matthew 12 with or againstCHOICE TWO:
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
 
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
 
Ah…now we get it, right?
 
Who do you choose to spend eternity with? Choose wisely. It’s a matter of LIFE or death.
 
Matthew 12 follow.jpg
Dear Heavenly Father,
I’m Yours. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for being gentle with me in Your transformation of all of me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides, comforts, convicts, challenges and bears fruit in our lives when we follow You exclusively. Thank you for life eternal with You.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
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LOOK AT MY SERVANT

Matthew – God’s Purposes
matthew-12-hope.jpg
There will be dark moments in our ministries that God called us to be and do. To be honest, it happened to me, right here on the mission field about two weeks ago. I won’t go into detail about this “battle” for my heart, mind and soul for it was not monumental, earth shattering, dangerous or even juicy to hear and pass on to someone else. A situation happened that disappointed me to the point of wondering if it was all worth being here. That is the darkness of discouragement that Satan feeds on for control of our minds. He fuels our thoughts with more negative thinking and assumptions that fuel the fires of our hurt and discouragement while serving God.
 
Fortunately, because I am older and wiser, I recognized this ploy to get me to stop what we were doing and go home, from past experiences of battling Satan. NO ONE here wanted us to leave, it was all in my heart for only a few hours. Satan is real, friends. When you are about to step boldly in front of people to tell Jesus’ Story of Truth, Way and Redeemed Life living, you have drawn a line in the sand for the devil who hates Truth, who hates Jesus Christ.
 
Matthew 12 bow to JesusIt is not surprising that this occurred while I was passionately preparing sermons for Spiritual Emphasis Week for elementary students. I drew a line in the sand. The battle began. Satan used a disappointing, discouraging situation to propel me into confusion and unrest until I fell on my knees and prayed earnestly for help. No other human could help me in this battle. I needed help beyond humans.
 
Matthew 12 Word                                                                I needed Jesus and I needed Him quickly. He heard my prayer. He gave me just what I needed…as He always does. The power of Jesus raised me up. The power of Jesus gave me His Words to speak. The power of Jesus overcame all feelings of discouragement. The power of Jesus opened up kids’ hearts to hear from Him who lives in me. Kids came to Jesus! Battle for kids lives were at stake. Devil lost again, praise Jesus!
 
The Pharisees (devil working through them) were plotting to stop our blessed Jesus’ work who was sent by God to seek and to save the lost. The religious elite were coming up with plans to trap him by baiting Him constantly. Their ultimate goal was to get rid of Jesus for good…by having the Roman government kill Him. Fortunately, we know the rest of the story. If you don’t, keep following this blog as we walk with Jesus through His Story as told by Matthew.
 
Matthew 12 lightWe are going to camp on this small portion of God’s Word that tells of the fulfillment of prophecy of Isaiah who describes the relationship between God and His Son. This is beautiful, calming, full of love, and brings hope to all who believe. Read carefully and meditate on the love God has for us. Thank God for sending His Son who took away ALL the sin of the world in one final amazing act of love on a cruel cross.
 
Know this, without a doubt, that Jesus knew what the Pharisees were planning. He knew what the fallen angel, Satan was plotting. He knows what battles we go through. He knows us. He loves us more than we can imagine. THIS gives us our hope for eternity!
 
“LOOK AT MY SERVANT”, says God.
 
Matthew 12, NLT
 
Matthew 12 justiceJesus, God’s Chosen Servant
15 But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, 16 but he warned them not to reveal who he was. 17 This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him:
 
18 “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
20 He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Matthew 12 Jesus
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
21 And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for fighting battles within us that are too much for us alone. Thank you for your power that flows through us when we are discouraged and disappointed on the journey. Thank you for taking our deserved punishment for our sin. Thank you for loving us the way you do. Thank you for hope!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe!
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I’M GONNA TELL, I’M GONNA TELL

I’M GONNA TELL, I’M GONNA TELL
 
Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 12, tattle
As in all young people groups, there will always be those who love to focus on anyone breaking what they think the rules are and go running to the teacher or whomever is in charge shouting, “I’m gonna tell, I’m gonna tell!” (You can hear the sing-songy mocking voice.) They yell this while running so the student who didn’t do what they wanted them to do will KNOW they are going to get them in trouble. We see it throughout every school day on the playground, in the lunch room, in the classroom, on the way to be picked up for the day. All day long it happens with NO MERCY in sight. It’s tiresome for all who have to hear it and solve the accusations.
 
Matthew 12 not worried
How tiresome it must of been for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to be followed around by nick-picking tattle-talers of his days called Pharisees. It was the Pharisees and others who tacked on impossible, man-made addendum to God’s original law. It was Jesus who came to help people understand the full intent of God’s Law and the fulfillment of the extent of His love. Here is a perfect example of His love and mercy which led to a plot by the tattletalers to do away with Jesus who is Truth. Tatletalers don’t like Truth. They prefer to create their own truth. Tattletalers show no mercy for others.
Matthew 12, NLT
Matthew 12 grain in sunA Discussion about the Sabbath
12 At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. 2 But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”
 
3 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. 5 And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? 6 I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! 7 But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” 8 For the Son of Man[b] is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
 
Matthew 12 handJesus Heals on the Sabbath
9 Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
 
11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
 
13 Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! 14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.
 
Matthew 12 sheep
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT:
 
Am I a tattle tale or a person who prays to understand Truth in the person of Jesus Christ?
 
A tattletale is a judge. Am I a judge of others seeking Truth? Do I nit-pick about how others live their lives and tell God he needs to do something about them without knowing what they’re going through at the time? Or do I pray for them with love in my heart, asking God to simply help them in His ways?
 
Matthew 12 7 mercy.png
Dear Heavenly Father,
I do not pretend to be perfect before you. Cleanse my heart. Transform my life. Help me to focus on You and You alone and not on the faults of others. Help my life reflect Your Truth as the Person of Jesus Christ. Forgive us when we judge others unmercifully. Help us to always show mercy first followed by Your Love in our hearts.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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THE YOKE’S ON YOU!

THE YOKE’S ON YOU!
 
Matthew 11 yokeMatthew – God’s Purposes
 
When God leads us, invites us to HIS work, normally believers obey quickly. We love tagging along with God’s Holy Spirit in the lead. There is nothing on earth that compares to the peace in following the commandments of God while trying to live daily according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. His power helps us but sometimes we forget we have this “Christ in us” power as Paul reminded believers often.
 
Matthew 11 much
We also get over zealous in the work at times and take off His yoke and put on a yoke that is too heavy and does not fit us. We fall into a trap of pleasing others so we add on to what God has given us to do. Why? Because when we please others, we get instant gratification. It feels good. But when this addicting feeling is gone we are left with a weariness that depletes us. People we have pleased will deplete us, asking for more and more from us. See the trap? We get weary in the work when we do this addition and multiplication of tasks not asked of us by our Lord, we need to stop and examine at our “yoke”.
 
On another note…
When people reject the message that Jesus told us to tell, we need to step back and consider how Jesus deals with those who do not acknowledge him even when he performed miracles and loved them as much as anyone else. Have you ever been in this situation on your journey? We pour our lives into those who still reject Jesus as Lord and Savior? What is our response?
 
For me today, these two passages definitely go together. Jesus laments over unbelievers who refuse the eternal life He has to offer. He clearly explains the judgement they will bear when all is said and done. THEN he promptly prays…“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!” Even though God gives us free will to decide to come back to Him or not, our Sovereign God know who will and who will not. We who are childlike (not childish, there’s a huge difference!) in our faith truly and completely trust the will of our Father in Heaven.
 
Matthew 11 too much.jpg
Jesus shows us this concept by his own prayer as he continues, ““My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Jesus clearly knows His purpose because He only does what the Father tells him to be, do and say while in human form on earth.
 
Do WE get that? Do we do only what the Father tells us to be, do and say? Or do we tack on more than is necessary?
 
Matthew 11 come.jpgThis wonderful wisdom is quickly followed by, “Come to Me.” “Take MY yoke upon you.” To do this, we must take off what we ourselves have placed on our shoulders in the work God has invited us to do. His yoke fits us much better. It’s lighter, more appropriate for the work HE wants us to do. “Let me teach you.” He will guide us into how to adjust our yoke until it fits perfectly for the work ahead of us. “You will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy to bear.”
 
Oh, fellow believers, let us learn this lesson well. Stop what you’re doing right now and consider the yoke (work, details, pressures, problems) on your shoulders. Who put it there? You or God?
 
Pray, asking God to help you shed the yoke you or others have placed upon your shoulders, step back, and then allow God to fit you with HIS yoke fitted perfectly for you. Owners of oxen will NOT put an ill fitting yoke on their animals. They handmade yokes to fit each animal’s neck so that the work could be done without harm to the animal. Mm.
 
Pray. I’m doing that right now. Be back later…
 
Read the passage while I’m gone to be with God, the Father….See what God tells you.
 
Matthew 11
 
Judgment for the Unbelievers
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. 21 “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 22 I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.
 
23 “And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.[g] For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. 24 I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”
 
Jesus’ Prayer of Thanksgiving
25 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!
 
27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
 
Matthew 11 come to me
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are an amazing Teacher who gets right to the heart of the matter when it comes to Your Will and Purpose for our lives. Let us sit still while you place your heavenly designed yoke upon our shoulders and send us back to work to do only what YOU tell us to be, do and say. Thank you, Lord for rest, time to reflect and meditate on your word and your ways. Thank you for a perfectly fitted yoke that is much lighter and easier to bear.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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THIS IS HIS STORY!

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 11 journey
Do we sometimes doubt who we are and why we do what we do? Do we sit in a prison of wondering if what we have grown to know is real? Do we falter in our faith when rough times beat us down. We are humans and this happens. However, we of faith in Jesus Christ look up from this prison of wondering to all that God as for us and the environment of our wondering transforms. We begin to look at Who HE is and remember all that He has done, is doing and will do for us, in us and through us. Our hope is restored, no matter what life is doing to us here on earth. Better days are coming.
 
Is this what was going through John the Baptist’s mind as he sat in a jail cell after completing the mission God gave him? Is his memory fading? Is his hope failing as he sits in the dark contemplating what will happen next to him? Why does he, who prepared the way for Jesus, the Messiah, now wonder if Jesus is “the one”? We wonder why he wonders.
 
Then we remember our own doubts that come when we are pressed against a wall of disappointment, hurt, arrogance by those who don’t believe, betrayal, physical pain and misplaced trust. If we admit it, as John did, we sometimes wonder if we are following the right Person. We wonder if we are doing what we do for all the right reasons. Satan loves our doubt and stirs our minds with replays of past hurts. Do we fall for that? Is that our story?
 
Matthew 11 6.jpg
Jesus tells those John sent for verification, to tell John the results of his ministry. “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen…” Jesus tells them to tell HIS story which is part of John’s story. Can you imagine the hope that John’s friends and disciples gives to John? John, the prophet probably knows he is going to die for preaching God’s truth. He has ruffled the feathers of those in power who are manipulating and callous over the people they lead. John probably wants to know, wants to be assured. before he dies, if it was all worth it. Jesus words are perfect for John who needs to know for sure.
 
Jesus does this for us when we falter in our faith on the bad days of life here on earth. Our journey is sometimes harder than we imagined but then Jesus comes with power to help us, through His Holy Spirit, and speaks words of hope with compassionate love to our hurting hearts. He comforts our souls and fills our minds with memories of all that he brought us through in the past. Sometimes Jesus uses his people to speak just the right words of encouragement to us which lifts our heads to focus on Him once more. It’s HIS story of love, mercy and grace through His salvation and restoration!
 
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine…is the song we sing.
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
 
IMG_5511
We are in the middle of our mission here in Bolivia. The work for us has been harder than we imagined at times but the blessings of God, our Father have been greater still. This blessed assurance by Jesus’ Holy Spirit has come to encourage us in many ways. We told our story of how Jesus transformed us and invited us to his work years ago and is still inviting us to a couple of missionaries last night who invited us to their table for a delicious dinner. We heard their story of how Jesus works through them to reach kids who are on the streets of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We were all lifted and encouraged telling HIS story in us…all because of the blessed assurance of Jesus.
 
Jesus is the ONE and only who came to save us from our sin….and doubts. ALL of us.
 
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
 
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
 
Matthew 11, NLT
Jesus and John the Baptist
11 When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
 
2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
 
4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
 
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. 9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
 
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’
 
Matthew 11 changed
11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
 
16 “To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
 
17 ‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’
 
18 For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you. Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives. Thank you for saving us and making us whole. Thank you for continuing to encourage us and transform us to be and do all that you created us to be. Keep us close to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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